Matt Savoie (left) and Jiri Kulich are two of Buffalo’s prized prospects. ©2023, Micheline Veluvolu, Rochester Americans

Matt Savoie, Jiri Kulich and likely other Sabres prospects off limits in trades

BUFFALO – In his early days as general manager, Kevyn Adams began reshaping the Sabres by trading established assets.

Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen all fetched hefty returns and have helped the Sabres compile a deep and talented stable of prospects.

As the Sabres have developed into a playoff contender this season, Adams has learned how much other teams covet their young talent.

As a buyer prior to Friday’s trade deadline, an unusual position, he said prospects Matt Savoie and Jiri Kulich, two of the three forwards they selected in the first round in 2021, “were nonstarters in conversations.”

Adams was asked specifically about Savoie, the ninth overall pick, and Kulich, the 28th pick, during his chat with the media Friday. It’s probably fair to lump Noah Ostlund, the 16th pick last year, and some other prospects in the off-limits category.

“Believe me, I’m really excited about the prospect pool we have and so is the rest of the league, because there were a lot of questions about … not just those two but others,” Adams said.

Adams has made it clear he won’t make short-term moves that could hurt the Sabres’ future.

Early in Adams’ tenure after he took over as GM in 2020, they lacked young assets like they have now.

“When you’re trying to start to build your team and your franchise, and then you’re trying to start having conversations, it’s challenging if you don’t have assets,” he said.

Now the Sabres, who host superstar Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers tonight at KeyBank Center, have a pool of high-end prospects. If a team can’t grab one in a trade, they might look elsewhere.

When the Ottawa Senators acquired defenseman Jakob Chychrun last week in exchange for conditional first- and second-round picks and a second-rounder, some observers wondered why the Sabres wouldn’t give that up. Adams wanted to pry Chychrun, 24, away from the Arizona Coyotes, right?

Well, teams don’t ask every potential trade partner for the same return. Adams acknowledged the Coyotes wanted more from the Sabres.

You can bet Savoie and Kulich were requested.

“You have to be careful whether it’s as a fan, or anyone just saying, ‘Well, if this team traded for this, then we should have done it,” Adams said. “That’s not the way it typically works. … There is a line that we would draw in a situation like that, as we got to that spot, that we are not going over. We’re not in a situation where we feel that we had our backs against the wall, desperate.

“I am thrilled to death that there’s an absolute arms race going on in the East over the last couple of weeks, and just there’s high prices, and I get it. But I think that we wanted to be really careful with that, too.”

Savoie, 19, has enjoyed a standout junior season with the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg Ice, scoring 33 goals and 82 points in 55 games.

“Matt, he’s a Sabre,” Adams said. “He’s our type of player. The kid’s just a puck hound, relentless, plays at top speed, and it’s why we took him so high.”

Meanwhile, Kulich, 18, has compiled 16 goals and 34 points in 45 outings with the Rochester Americans. Teenagers, of course, rarely have that much success in the AHL.

“What Jiri has done in the American League at 18 years old is pretty special and very rare,” Adams said.

4 thoughts on “Matt Savoie, Jiri Kulich and likely other Sabres prospects off limits in trades”

  1. Mr. Hoppe,

    It always feels good to be a buyer than a seller in an arms race and I appreciate GM Adams approach to building our team and creating a culture with the young corps of talented players on the team and from within the system.

    I am not enamored by players 5′ 9″ or shorter and there is talk about moving Mr. Savoie from center to wing.

    Mr. Ostlund is a couple of inches taller but this Swede is already been compared to Henrik Sedin because of his lack of high-end offensive skills and he has the talent to hopefully develop positively in our system.

    Last season’s draft selection Mr. Kulich is playing for a Rochester team mired in the middle of the pack in the North Division of the AHL and is garnishing praise for his 34 points in 45 games campaign to date.

    I appreciate the time and effort you take to write and post, especially in a positive light, and Twitter is what brought me to this article.

  2. I agree !!!The Sabres are finally getting back to a talented,hungry fun team to watch. It’s nice to have a team that wants to play for Buffalo.we sure couldn’t say that about a lot of the teams slash player of the past .The Sabre have something really special going on for them.Everything is going as planned.We have a great farm system.We have a great team aand more importantly the manegment is the best since the Lindy era.maybe even better.We have a few more years of the team growing so we will have to wait to see if I’m right can’t wait to see what the next few years bring.So for me I say Kevin and Donny keep up the good work.Thanks for bringing hockey back to Buffalo

  3. GM is doing a great job not giving up prospects for aging vets
    this team will be one of the best just needs a franchise goalie and some toughness

  4. I totally agree with the team’s approach in allowing the players to develop and not looking for some sort of quick fix that ends up being much more expensive in the long run. The Sabres had a decade of futility trying to find the missing chemistry and talent through many ill advised and ultimately failed trades. Kevyn Adams has almost miraculously taken a team with a decimated prospect pool and turned it completely around in a very short time. It’s also good to see Don Granato’s knowledge of players being heeded and the Sabres picking up talented players who weren’t working out with other teams and watching them develop into top players. It’s importent that any player traded for fits the culture the Sabres are striving to maintain. I believe the team is ahead of schedule in their success, and I don’t see any advantage in picking up a big name, high salaried player just to say you were trying to help the team’s playoff chances. It generally doesn’t work, and the price is way too high. I thoroughly enjoy watching the Sabres this year, their success is beyond my wildest expectations at this point. There have been some pretty rough losses, but that’s part of the process, the young players need to experience what does and doesn’t work, there are few if any short cuts. The Sabres are already a formidable team, though far from perfect. I hope to see them in the playoffs this year, but it’s not a disaster if they don’t make it. It’s a tough division, and only hard work and good management will allow them to continue to put a quality contender on the ice. One thing is certain – the GM and Coach are th right people for the job and I’m glad to see them using restraint in sticking to their plan.

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